Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
A few words from Neil on The Land of Laughs: "I chose The Land of Laughs for Neil Gaiman Presents because I love Jonathan Carroll’s books and want to bring them to as wide an audience as possible. I suspected the character of Thomas Abbey would be both a challenge and an opportunity for the right narrator. Edoardo Ballerini conveys a certain wistfulness and vulnerability underneath Abbey’s grumpiness."
Thomas Abbey is a man stuck in a rut. An English teacher in a small Connecticut prep school, Abbey is in a crisis. His career is unfulfilling, he has no social or love life to speak of, and he cannot break out of the shadow of his famous father, the actor Stephen Abbey. To kick-start his life, he takes a sabbatical to work on a biography of his favorite writer, Marshall France. France's books were the only thing that kept Abbey sane during his childhood, and though he was renowned for his lyrical and imaginative children's books, nearly nothing was known about the writer's life.
Although Abbey has been warned that France's daughter, Anna, has blocked all previous attempts at her father's biography, he and Saxony Garder - an intense woman also obsessed with France's life - head to Galen, Missouri, with high hopes of breaking down Anna's resistance. They are surprised to find Anna the soul of small-town hospitality and quite excited about Abbey's proposal - even eager to get the project finished as soon as possible.
Even stranger than Anna's behavior is the town of Galen itself. On the surface, all is as a small Midwestern town should be. But the people of the town seem to know what their future holds - freak accidents and all - down to the hour and are as eager for Abbey to finish the biography as Anna is.
To hear more from Neil Gaiman on The Land of Laughs, click here, or listen to the introduction at the beginning of the book itself.
©1980 Jonathan Carroll (P)2011 Richard Parks
"Edoardo Ballerini perfectly captures the hesitant and faltering Thomas Abbey, a schoolteacher who wants to write the biography of his favorite children’s author, the mysterious Marshall France. Thomas’s story starts out realistically enough, but when he and his girlfriend take a research trip to France’s hometown in Missouri, things begin to veer into the bizarre. Ballerini makes the listener sympathize with Thomas, even as he begins an affair with France’s daughter, Anna, a woman obsessed with her dead father. Ballerini’s command of Thomas’s character and his spot-on voices for the secondary characters ground the story as it becomes more fantastical and the listener learns that either things aren’t what they seem or Thomas is not entirely sane. An unsettling examination of obsession." (AudioFile)
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Thomas Abbey is a burnt out prep-school English teacher (who's heard one too many vapid book reports about ???The Fall of the House of Usher???) with an extensive collection of well-oiled masks but no lover. And don???t ask him about his deceased movie star father! Since childhood, the one thing that he has unreservedly loved is the work of Marshall France, a mysterious author of popular children???s fantasy books, of which Thomas??? favorite is The Land of Laughs. As Jonathan Carroll???s novel opens, Thomas has decided to go on a leave of absence, during which he plans to write the first biography of France. Will he succeed? Will Saxony Gardner, a young woman who also loves the books of France, be able to help him? Will France???s eccentric daughter Anna hinder them? How did France create such real characters and wonderful stories? Why do the people of Galen, Missouri remind one of The Wicker Man and Inkheart?
I chucklingly enjoyed the first third of the novel! It is quirky and funny, and I care a great deal about Thomas and Saxony and their biographical quest. But by the last third it becomes disturbing and by the ending disappointing, perhaps because Carroll abandons the attraction of children???s fantasy books for the creepiness of creation, and because the d??nouement is abrupt and unpleasant. Though The Land of Laughs is largely about the life and work of an author of children???s books, Carroll???s novel is not for children.
The reading by Edoardo Ballerini is well paced and varied for the different characters and situations (though a few times I confused his Saxony and Anna) and balances emotion and restraint.
Carroll???s novel is about many things: America (popular culture, gothic, small towns, big cities, etc.), writing, reading, biography, fame, fans, love, family, fantasy, reality, and the relationships between them. Is it a horror novel? An urban fantasy? A metafiction? A romance? A father and son novel? It???s a little of all of those. It is surely unpredictable and memorable.
This is a very entertaining mix of the mystery and fantasy genres, and translates well to audio format.
The most memorable moment comes when the protagonist, Thomas Abbey, realizes that the small town of Galen, Missouri, is not as it appears. The plot, which had been developing in an apparently predictable course, as Abbey struggles to write his first book, the biography of his favorite childhood author, suddenly takes on unexpected
This is the first of Edoardo Ballerini's performances I have heard. I was deeply impressed. None of his characters are annoying, they are all clearly identified as he read his way along. It reminded me of an old radio play more than listening to someone read a book out loud.
The first 1/2 to 3/4 of the story was great. But then it turned strange with no apparent reason for it or build up. So far fetched. I was lost and confused
In the lower half of my list.
I haven't listened to others by Jonathan Carrol. Probably won't now.
Saxony. She seemed interesting, but not fleshed out. I'm a researcher (as she was) and I'd be fascinated to know how she found out some of her facts. (That point is never addressed.)
Many people on here have said that they would like to take Thomas (the main character) out to dinner. But I found him very self-serving. I don't think I would have enjoyed the dinner at all. He probably would have angered me and in a juvenile way to get back at him, I probably would have spent the whole dinner talking about his father and what a great actor he was. (That won't make sense to anyone who hasn't read the book.)
I bought this book in error. I ran across a review of author Neil Gaiman and wanted to read some of his work. I ran his name through Audible and found a couple, including this one. Once I purchased it, I found that it wasn't written by him but only on his suggested list.
I finished this book over a week ago and I'm still shaking my head. Various points pop up into memory and start me off again. I argue with myself over whether I should return the book for a refund or if I liked it.
If you ask me if I'm sorry that I read it, I would have to say no. (Unlike "Albert Nobbs" where I not only wanted my money back for the cost, but also wanted the hours of my life back that it took to finish it.) If you asked if I would purchase it again, knowing what I know now, I would have to say no.
At least the narrator was very good.
The reviews are divided on this book, so it seems you will have to judge for yourself.
What I love most about this book is that you've simply no idea what genre it is for the majority of the narrative. Halfway through and deeply invested in the tale you wonder... Will this be a fantasy story or are we simply along for the ride in our own world, relating so intimately with a protagonist who deeply loves a children's book author about whom little is known? The story is very well-presented and the characters are fantastic, I wanted more.
I found the story to be entertaining and engaging. The narrator was perfect for the story and I was sorry to have it end...
Thanks to Neil Gaiman for bringing this title to us - I will definitely check our more "Neil Gaiman Presents" selections...
It was a bit like a grown up fairy tale story...
Mr. Ballerini did a masterful job - really brought the story to life.
I have not read the book, but I really enjoyed the intro by Neil Gayman and I loved the way the Narrator read the text.
I have not read something quite like this story and that was what really made my Day!
Anna was my favorite.
Do You Dare to enter this book, Do You dare not to...?
I think the reader made this story better than it really is. He's just really good, without trying to do weird voices or anything. The story itself is rather quirky, but I'm glad I listened to it. Not great, but good.
It has some language that put me off of the story. I used to get ebooks and edit them by replacing offensive words or phrases with something else.
It is unfortunate that publishers/ producers do not accomadate consumers who are sensitive to language.
I found the plot interesting--but did not finish the story due to language.
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